In September 2004 I planted 4 different Corydalis bulbs that I had ordered from Odyssey Bulbs. They promised to be exquisite, so I could hardly wait until spring, and started patroling the vicinity as soon as the snow had melted. I especially wanted to see Corydalis bracteata (not offered this year), which owner Russell Stafford described thus:
Take Corydalis solida, enlarge its flowers, color them a rich, buttery yellow, and increase its vigor, and you’ve got this lovely species.
Did I mention I love yellow in the spring? Tragically (this is a gardener speaking), I never got to see this wonderful plant. There was a vole tunnel going directly to the spot marked by the tag. Voles! I screamed internally. Why was there no mention of rodents in the catalog? I could have taken precautions! Having thus become attuned to the grave threat to all my corydalis darlings, I looked over the rest of the planting locations with trepidation. Phew. Everyone else seemed okay.
This was Corydalis solida ‘Nettleton Pink’ last year. Yes, last year. This year, there is no ‘Nettleton Pink,’ and I don’t know why. I don’t see a vole tunnel, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t eaten. It’s supposed to have “well-drained, humus-rich soil in partial to light shade,” and that’s what it’s got. All the other C. solida cultivars are up and blooming, and this one is supposed to be an earlier blooming variety. I am tempted to dig the area up to try to figure out what happened, even though it will probably mean replanting a nearby astilbe. But when there are so many other pressing garden tasks to be done, it doesn’t seem like doing a post-mortem should be the top item on my to-do list. Do you often dig up the plants that don’t make it to figure out why?
C. solida ‘Pink Splash’ is also still alive. It blooms later than the others, and I don’t seem to have a photo of it, probably because there are too many other flowers competing for attention at that point. Last year after it bloomed I relocated it so that it was easier to see, and while it sent up foliage this year, I don’t think it will bloom.
I hope to acquire more corydalis as the years go by, but I will place grit around any new acquisitions, or maybe make little cages out of hardware cloth (aka rat wire) to plant them in. For a perennial plant, they weren’t that expensive, but when you think of them as individual tubers, and compare them to daffodil or crocus bulbs, they sure seem expensive. I really don’t want to lose any more to rodent food.